IBM to open research facility in Johannesburg in April 2015

Enterprise IT vendor IBM will open new laboratory in Johannesburg, Africa, in April 2015 to focus on advancing Big Data, cloud and mobile technologies.

The new research facility will be based at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits).

IBM’s new initiative is part of a 10-year investment program through the Department of Trade and Industry.

John E Kelly III, senior vice president of IBM Solutions Portfolio and Research. “South Africa provides an exciting backdrop as we look to expand our research efforts. Our Africa-based researchers are part of a global community of IBM scientists who are forging the future of our company and ensuring that we remain at the forefront of scientific discovery.”

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty (right) with Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor

IBM’s South Africa researchers will partner with local universities, research institutions, innovation centers, start-ups and government agencies. IBM has struck up agreements with Wits University, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to collaborate on research programs and skills development.

Solomon Assefa, formerly a research scientist at IBM’s flagship Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York, will lead the new South Africa research team.

IBM Research is already engaged with the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV (K-RITH) to research new treatment approaches to fight tuberculosis (TB). Using Big Data technologies in bacterial genetics and drug susceptibility tests, the work is increasing understanding of the genomic mechanisms that cause resistance to antibiotics.

IBM’s researchers will contribute to the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) radio telescope project which aims to answer fundamental questions about the origins of the universe.

Scientists from South Africa will work with those from ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy and IBM Research — Zurich to collect and analyze unprecedented amounts of Big Data from deep space that contain information dating back to the Big Bang more than 13 billion years ago.

Pix: Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor (left) and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty (right) at the launch of IBM’s Research lab in Johannesburg

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